The State Worker

California state government’s soggy tower springs another leak

The Board of Equalization tower in 2012 shown with scaffolding at its base to protect passersby should an exterior glass panel pop off the building.
The Board of Equalization tower in 2012 shown with scaffolding at its base to protect passersby should an exterior glass panel pop off the building. bnguyen@sacbee.com

Here we go again.

A leak inside the Board of Equalization’s Sacramento headquarters forced the agency to close restrooms on two floors Wednesday, according to a memo to the 2,200 employees who work in the building. It’s not clear when the repairs will be completed.

Evidence of the leak was found Wednesday morning outside a men’s restroom on the 17th floor. The Department of General Services, which acts as the 24-story tower’s landlord, traced the trouble to a cracked drain pipe on the 18th floor.

“This leak caused water to stain ceiling tiles above the drinking fountain, as well as drip down to the surrounding carpet and wall areas,” the Wednesday afternoon memo by Equalization Deputy Director Edna Murphy states. The men’s restrooms on the 17th and 18th floors were closed and water was shut off to a breakroom sink served by the cracked pipe.

“At this time DGS is not able to determine when they will finish the repairs,” the memo says.

The latest leak continues the ongoing drip of news about the tower’s structural troubles dating back to its 1992 opening. Taxpayers have spent more than $60 million to repair everything from leaking windows to toxic mold to unreliable elevators in the tower at 450 N St. in Sacramento. Replacing hundreds of exterior glass panels at risk of falling off the building and repairing crumbling drain pipes that lace the tower’s core will cost tens of millions of dollars more.

The Brown administration has said it’s working on a plan to better manage the state’s inventory of buildings in the capital region, including Equalization’s headquarters.

Meanwhile, a lawsuit is pending that claims officials at the tax-collecting agency knew the building was a hazardous work site but told employees it is safe.

Call Jon Ortiz, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 321-1043.

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